HEPPP Research Network Symposium

Exploring Expertise in Teaching in Higher Education
16 October 2020, UWE Bristol

The concept of expertise complements and challenges the rhetoric of excellence. Excellence is poorly defined, whereas expertise has a deep literature base behind it (e.g. Ericsson et al 2006 and 2018). Excellence, by definition and derivation - from the Latin excellere (ex – ‘out, beyond’; celsus – ‘lofty’) - is not available to all; we can't all be outstanding. Expertise, (from the Latin experiri: to try, which is also the root of experience and experiment) is a process potentially accessible by all. If we can identify the ways of thinking and practising and characteristics of expertise in teachers in higher education this may then help inform the enhancement of learning, teaching and educational development (Kreber et al, 2005; Saroyan and Trigwell, 2015).

This inaugural one-day symposium will bring together researchers, educational developers and others interested in the topic to explore the various dimensions of teacher expertise in higher education:

  • Pedagogic Content Knowledge (Shulman, 1986)
  • Artistry (Schön, 1982) of Teaching
  • Self-determined learning and development (King, 2019).

Sub-themes include:

  • developing disciplinary ways of thinking and practising
  • performativity and improvisation
  • development of expertise in teaching in HE
  • professional learning of expert teachers in HE.

Call for contributions

Proposals are invited for presentations which are relevant to the symposium topic and themes. Presentations should involve reflection, exploration, scholarship and evaluation rather than just describing activities undertaken. Proposals should also be grounded in relevant literature and research wherever possible. Presenters will be invited to contribute to an edited book based on the theme of the symposium.

The deadline for proposals is midnight (00:00 GMT) on Monday 29 June 2020. Proposals must be submitted using the online form, the maximum abstract length is 3,000 characters.

Presentations will take the following formats:

  • oral presentations of ten minutes, plus five minutes for questions
  • posters will be displayed throughout the day and presenters will have the opportunity to engage with symposium participants during the lunch break
  • digital presentations last a maximum of ten minutes and take the form of a video file with sound. This may be a screencast or a recording of a person speaking. The presentation will be uploaded to a publicly available platform. Viewers will be able to submit questions to the digital presenter in the week of the symposium (12-16 October 2020) and digital presenters must commit to answering viewers’ questions in a timely manner.

Each proposal will be reviewed for acceptance at the symposium against the following criteria:

  • relevance to the symposium topic and themes
  • clarity and coherence of the proposal, including title
  • contribution to practice, scholarship and enhancement of learning and teaching and educational development in higher education.

Due to the limited time and space available at the event, presenters may be invited to contribute in a different format to that proposed.

Submit the online proposal form


Registration for the symposium will cost £50 to include lunch and refreshments. Should the situation with the coronavirus persist, we will explore options for the conference to be hosted entirely online, in this case, the cost will be greatly reduced. More information will be posted shortly.

Travel and accommodation

Information on travel to UWE Bristol and nearby accommodation is available on the UWE Bristol website. The symposium will be held on the Frenchay Campus. The nearest hotel is the Holiday Inn Bristol - Filton and is 10 minutes’ walk away.

Contact us

HEPPP convenor:

Dr Helen King
Academic Practice Directorate, UWE Bristol.


  • Ericsson, K A, N Charness, P J Feltovich and R R Hoffman (eds) (2006) The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Ericsson, K A, R R Hoffman, A Kozbelt and A M Williams (eds) (2018) The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • King (2019) Continuing Professional Development: What do award-winning academics do? Educational Developments, 20(2), pp1-4.
  • Kreber, C, Castleden, H, Erfani, N & Wright, T (2005) Self-regulated learning about university teaching: An exploratory study, Teaching in Higher Education, 10(1), pp 75-97.
  • Saroyan, A and Trigwell, K (2015) Higher education teachers’ professional learning: Process and outcome. Studies in Educational Evaluation 46, pp. 92-101.
  • Shulman, L S (1986) Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Research 15(2), pp 4-31.
  • Schön, D (1982) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. Routledge, London.

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